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Critical Approaches to Children's Literature

books on a shelf

the staff have knowledge in depth of a remarkable range of theoretical and critical positions, as well as an encyclopaedic knowledge of texts
(Professor Peter Hunt, Emeritus Professor, University of Cardiff, External Examiner)
Key Facts
Route Co-ordinator: Dr Zoe Jaques Full-time enrolled 2016-17: 17
Open to: MPhil, 2 Yr MEd & PGCEM Part-time enrolled 2016-17: 6
Full-time deadline: 30/03/2017 % International: 47%
Part-time deadline:Applications now closed for 2 Yr MEd and PGCEM 2017/2018 entry % Home: 53%
Written task required for application

This specialist Masters route is aimed at applicants who already have knowledge of and interest in children's literature, and who want to develop expertise in the subject at Masters level. In this route, students will meet old favourites in fiction, film, poetry and picturebooks and make exciting new acquaintances. They will be introduced to topical debates on the nature and social function of this controversial and multifaceted body of literature. They will also be provided with the tools for a critical assessment of texts written and marketed for a young audience. All students on the Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature course are automatically members of the Cambridge–Homerton Research and Teaching Centre for Children’s Literature which provides a superb study environment for all our graduate students in children’s literature. 

Why choose us?

  • Benefit from teaching by internationally renowned Faculty staff specialising in children's and young adult literature
  • Enjoy a wide range of theoretical frameworks and approaches to literature for young readers
  • Closely engage with the activities of the Cambridge Research and Teaching Centre for Children's Literature
  • Join a unique and vibrant community of graduate students and researchers in children's literature
  • Benefit from the experience of meeting fellow students from all over the world
  • Experience a teaching approach that promotes research-orientated pedagogy and encourages critical engagement with literature and media for young people
  • Enjoy personalised support and mentoring through one-to-one supervision
  • Gain knowledge and develop research skills to continue to a PhD in children's literature
  • Develop skills for employability across a range of institutions including academia, publishing and reading promotion

What does this course offer?

As well as providing a strong grounding in critical perspectives, this unique interdisciplinary course offers several distinctive elements which distinguish it from other courses on offer in other universities:

  • a prominent theoretical focus, including areas such as ecocricism, posthumanism, cognitive poetics and narratology
  • qualitative action research involving empirical work with children
  • a strong emphasis on picturebooks, multimodal texts and visual literacy
  • coverage of genres such as poetry for children
  • personal reflection via a reading autobiography and a working journal
  • a seminar series where visiting scholars, guest academics, writers or illustrators give a talk followed by the opportunity for questions and discussion.

In addition, students are welcomed into a thriving research community with opportunities to interact with many students who have previously taken our MPhil/MEd route and are now embarked on doctoral research on children's literature.

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How is the course organised?

Module 1: Texts, Contexts and Childhood
Module 2: Perspectives on Children's Literature
Module 3: Visual Texts
Module 4: Texts and Readers

The course is assessed through three assignments, each designed to be personally rewarding as well as professionally enlightening and intellectually challenging: a theorised reading autobiography, focusing on texts for children with particular reference to changing constructions of childhood; an empirical study of children responding to a selected picturebook; and a thesis on a topic of the student's own choosing, which may be either a purely literary study or a small empirical research project.  Students joining in the second year of the course do the thesis but not the essays.

Further detailed information.


Research Method Strand

Alongside these modules, you will benefit from 32 hours of Research Methods teaching. This is taught across all thematic Masters within the Faculty of Education, allowing you to interact with others on different routes. It covers a broad range of social science research methods and is essential for Masters level understanding and critical engagement with the research literature in many specialist areas and in education more generally. Through this strand you will acquire the skills necessary for designing, conducting, analysing, interpreting and reporting a research study for thesis.

Detailed information.

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Who are the course team?

Dr Zoe Jaques

Aneesh Barai

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Where do our students go?

Our graduates are the emerging stars in their field of research and Cambridge ambassadors throughout the world. They have a wide choice of career options, including further doctoral study, advanced teaching opportunities and English, media and communication, childhood studies, cultural studies and education, leading positions in publishing and reading promotion, archives, museums and video game development companies.

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What our students say

"Forum for stimulating debate – a new way of thinking and a great group of peers to share feedback with"

"Valuable and rewarding"

"Really wonderful learning environment"